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When it comes to healthy living, self-care is a must. No amount of exercise can counteract being run-down and poorly fed, nor can any juice cleanse make up for treating your body badly. This can be easy to do when the weather is ripe for a run and fresh produce is overflowing. With the weather having taken a permanent turn for colder, we tend to slow down and hibernate from the chilly weather. But, self-care shouldn’t be put on the back burner, no matter how frigid it gets.

Do yourself a favor by learning how to take extra care of yourself this winter. To get you started, check out these five tips. Before you know it, winter might not seem so bad after all.

01. Stay active.

This doesn’t mean you need to go for a run in the arctic tundra. Instead, focus on keeping your blood moving and grooving. According to Harvard Health Publications, this will help your immune cells flourish – just in time for the winter season.

Luckily, working out doesn’t mean you need to leave the house. Exercises like squats, jumping rope, and push-ups can be done in the comfort of your own home. The Internet also offers countless at-home exercise videos, making it easy to follow a routine. Even a simple morning stretch can work wonders. Need some ideas? Check out this video of easy moves you can even do in front of the TV. 

02. Eat fruits and vegetables.

Staying active during the winter is one thing. But eating fruits and veggies, too? It’s possible. While it’s easier to eat fresh produce during the warmer months, don’t let it slip your mind this winter. According to Kimberly Gomer, MS, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, this is exactly what you need to keep your immunity strong this winter.

The key is to eat seasonally. Opt for winter produce that is in its prime. Think persimmons, rutabagas, turnips, and winter squash. Gomer also suggests fueling up on green leafy vegetables like kale, Swiss chard, and spinach. “These greens will give your body the anti-inflammatory nutrients that keep your healthy,” she explains.

03. Get enough shut-eye.

Now that the holidays are winding down, it’s crucial to get enough shut eye. Gomer reminds us that this healthy habit will fight the detrimental effects of stress—something that we all experience. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute also shares that sleep is vital for cell restoration, happiness, and a healthy immune response. It can also help you stay on your A-game in the midst of the groggy weather.

Interestingly enough, it turns out that women need more sleep than men, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This is due to our natural tendency to multi-task the heck out of life. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Look into ways to sleep better at night, too. At the very least, sleeping more will let you take advantage of those long winter nights.

04. Wash your hands.

Of course, washing your hands isn’t limited to the winter season—you should make this a habit all year. But because temperatures drop, we’re more susceptible to the wrath of germs and viruses that thrive in cold, dry weather. This is especially true if you take public transportation or work in a school, office, or hospital.

The simple act of washing your hands can be a game changer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests scrubbing your digits when handling food, garbage, and after going to the bathroom. Make sure to lather up and scrub for a full twenty seconds. And if you can’t get to a sink? Use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol.

05. Have fun!

During the winter, sunset loves to show up early. It makes it far too easy to retreat into our homes, away from the cold (and everyone else.) Unfortunately, constantly doing this is the perfect setup for a crummy mood. Even the biggest introverts still need some people time.

To top it off, we depend on the sun for vitamin D, a nutrient that is linked to mood. And according to the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, this “sunshine vitamin” is needed for stellar mental health. Seasonal mood disorders are very real, folks.

Make it a point to pencil in some fun. Seriously, you deserve it. This can be anything from an occasional girls’ night to lunch with an old friend. Sure, it might be hard to face the cold – but it’ll be worth it. Even doing creative things can make you happy. Reading, trying a new recipe, and journaling are all fair game.

A simple shift in your self-care routine might be just what you need this winter season. Keep these concepts in mind to treat your body in the best way. You’ll be glad you did.

Photo Credit: Alexa Fernando